Kentucky basketball will not be adding an opponent this week to replace South Carolina, Coach John Calipari told reporters. There will, however, be an addition to the roster.
Per Coach Cal, the Wildcats are welcoming back freshman forward Cam’Ron Fletcher, who was basically asked to leave after his emotional outburst on the bench in the closing moments of a 75-63 loss to North Carolina a couple weeks back.
“We did a call with his mother, his high school coach, and me and Cam. And I told him what the expectations were,” Calipari said. “I told him, ‘You may not play a minute this year. How are you going to deal with that? What if you don’t play?’ I wanted everybody to hear that so we understood that this is for the long haul. This is to get you to change.”
That wasn’t all.
“There were a couple other things that said to him that I absolutely expected that if you wanted to be a part of it this is, how this will be,” Calipari said. “And he was great. I think the kid feels bad, but he had to have a wake-up call. He came in and hugged me and told me, ‘I’m going to be a different guy.'”
Fletcher was ranked No. 68 in the 2020 high school class, choosing Kentucky over North Carolina, Alabama, Michigan State and Missouri. He apparently expected more playing time right away, and returned home to St. Louis after being asked to leave. Now, though, it appears he’s back in Lexington.
As for the South Carolina game, which was slated to serve as Kentucky’s SEC opener, everything remains postponed “due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the South Carolina program,” according to a release from the program.
The league has set a makeup date for the March 5-7 range. As it stands, the Wildcats will open conference play Jan. 2 at Mississippi State.
And Calipari has to be hoping things go better in the SEC than they have so far in non-conference games. At 1-6, Kentucky is off to its worst start in nearly 100 years.
“We’re trying. We’re getting better,” Calipari said. “But losing stinks. It just stinks. We gotta right the ship at some point. Right now, we just gotta steal one, win one, dominate somebody, and then start moving on.”